There is one swimming event that open water swimmers in Vanuatu can’t miss – the iconic 3.2km Round Iririki Island Swim which takes swimmers over one of the deepest channels in the Pacific. Vanuatu Aquatics Federation, the national swimming federation under VASANOC and FINA, hosted the swim for first time in the beautiful Port Vila harbour on Saturday the 2nd of June.

While this event usually battles the skies and rain, the 2018 swim had perfect conditions. Glass water on a crystal clear high tide – even a large octopus managed to get a close look at the finish line. Swimmers came down with the sunrise to get their numbers tattooed on their arm and listen in to VAF staff and volunteers go over the course and the safety briefing.

We had 57 swimmers go around the island, with some familiar faces returning from overseas and 4 youth swimmers give the adults a run for their money!

The swim started at 7:20 taking advantage of the hightide making sure all competitors made it over the Iririki reef to accommodate long swimmer arms. Swimmers jetted around glorious yachts and pirate ships in the marina up to the halfway point at the tip of Iririki, high fiving the Nemo Tours boat as they went past.The finish was the closest in the history of the swim with the head judges needing to go to both video and finish photos to make a decision. After much debate between finish judges first place was declared a tie to both locals Jake Ward and Matt Cook for the first time ever! 3rd and 4th places were also neck a neck with Tony Midolo just pushing out Sharna Hinchcliff for 3rd place by 4 seconds – both from Australia. It was a fantastic race to watch and had spectators leaning against the new seafront railings for the best view of the finish.

Place Time Name

1 00:52:38 Matt Cook

1 00:52:38 Jake Ward

3 00:54:54 Anthony Midolo

4 00:55:00 Sharna Hinchliff

For the full set of times visit the results page on VanuatuAquatics.com

Thanks to our event sponsors Air Vanuatu first place prize of a return trip to Vanuatu was split between the winners – both were debating at the end who would fly which way! Air Vanuatu also awarded Sharna as 1stFemale with a return ticket to Vanuatu to defend her title in 2019.

Introduced a few years ago swimmers again had the opportunity to complete the swim as a relay in teams of 2 – each swimming 1.6km. Encouraging those needing an extra “kick” to make the distance fins were also permitted and are noted alongside any swimmer taking advantage of the added propulsion. The local team of Lenise and Jackie came in unaided in first place just nudging out the Australian duo of Amelia (Fins) and Bronte.


Place Split Swimmer 1 Finish time Swimmer 2

1 0:36:11 Lenise Monterro 01:13:21 Jackie Potgieter

2 0:31:16 Amelia Bono (F) 01:13:43 Bronte Foale

For the full set of times visit the results page on VanuatuAquatics.com

After a fast start in the 200m Pikinini Sprint Master Lee just beat out an ever improving Isabelle Barlow who was hot on his toes all the way to the finish in our children’s event.

200m Pikinini Sprints

1 00:03:42 Billy Lee

2 00:03:50 Isabelle Barlow

After the announcements of the 1st male and 1st female prize, our entire prize pool was opened up to all competitors as a random prize draw with people eagerly gathered underneath the BRED Bank tent to see if they’d be able to take home their choice of prize.

Prizes included 2 domestic return tickets courtesy of Air Vanuatu, An accommodation package with the beautifully renovated Tamanu on the beach, water bottles from Azure Pure Water, Tea Towels thanks to Pandanus and children’s backpacks from Kings Swim in Australia. In total we had nearly 40 prizes to give away.

Thanks to all our overseas visitors who made the trek to Port Vila to be apart of our race – it wouldn’t be the same without you and hope that there are challengers to our blistering duo of Matt and Jake next year.

A special thanks has to go out to our team of volunteers who helped VAF run this event for the first time ever. Big thanks to Shoshi for getting all registered swimmers ready and caught them at the finish, the team of safety volunteers who tirelessly followed and guided swimmers around the course – thank you Shantini, Sarah, Sally, Peter, Matt, Nish, Alex, Brodia and Vanessa. Also thank you to Arlene Bax for taking incredibly beautiful underwater footage of the swim.

Many thanks to ProMedical for standing by with their ambulance, ready for anything and looking after our swimmers.

And last but not least, a major thank you to our Australian Volunteer Tracy Elliot who brought the event together, organising registration weeks before the event, making sure swimmers had shirts and food post race and working with the local tour operators for the donated kayak and boat support. Tracy has been working with the federation and staff for over a year to help build local swim clubs in communities and kick starting water polo in Port Vila.

The 2019 swim has been penciled in as an 8 am start on the 8th of June pending confirmation from the Vanuatu Tourism Office. Once the date has been set in concrete we’ll let everyone know so we can start planning for your 2019 Vanuatu swimming holiday.

Thanks again for everyone who made this event a success – we couldn’t do it without you. In 2019 we plan to introduce a few social swims around the event so swimming clubs or social swimmers can really make the most of a swimming holiday in Vanuatu. Don’t forget to share our event and look out for details of our 2019 swim!

All funds raised through this event go directly to the Vanuatu Aquatics Federation and help us deliver much needed learn to swim and aquatics based programs around the islands and give opportunities for some of our elite swimmers to compete overseas.

Raymond Nasse

Sports Editor


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